Have you ever seen a small child fall down, tripping over their shoe laces or accidentally bumping their head against the wall? There is, in the aftermath, a moment that seems to be frozen in time. Is the child going to cry? Are they truly injured? A parent will often preempt the response by making a joke or encouraging their kid that he is ok.
Sometimes we cry because of the fear of pain rather than the experience of pain itself.
Once we get a taste for pain, it is easy to become overly fearful of it. We adopt a confirmation bias. Out of our fear of it, we are looking for pain.
This threat permeates our worldview. Everything could hurt. Everything might offend me. We find what we are looking for. And so many of us are looking for pain, peering for it around every corner.
Our perspective often invents offenses. We want to justify our way of thinking, eager to blame others for our hurt, dissatisfaction, or ineptitude. We act as though things hurt when really we are just trying to massage the circumstances to get our way. Does it really hurt? Or have I learned that tears get me attention?
Obviously, we can push too far in this direction. Acknowledging what truly hurts is vitally important. We have to be able to honestly name sorrow when it strikes. But we must be equally able to see when it is just the threat of pain that scared us into offense or sadness or anger. We should not cover up true pain. Neither should we adopt imagined pain.
If we want to live a life of truth, we need to be able to ask ourselves, “Does this really hurt?” and have the courage to answer.